Sunday, November 17, 2013

A Day Trip to Bath

An automated Photoshop accident of the Roman Baths

Before Contiki: A Day Trip to Bath

As this was also officially the first day of my Contiki tour, a meet-up with the group and our tour manager scheduled for later in the evening at the Royal National Hotel in London, I woke up extra early to make the next available train leaving from Paddington Station to Bath Spa to make the best of my day there.

Now as a history and photo nerd, Bath is just about one of the most picturesque and historical places you can find yourself. The train ride was a little more expensive than I would have liked seeing as how the exchange rate of the American dollar to the British pound wasn't terribly great. If I remember correctly I believe the round trip ticket cost around £ 76 which at the time would've equaled about $113. 

Now Contiki offers a discounted ticketed tour through Evans Evans tour company, which also includes a stop off at Stonehenge, however the time duration of that trip would have made me miss the Contiki meeting. I also was not really too gung-ho to see Stonehenge either as visitors aren't allowed close to the stones anymore due mainly to vandalism and I just really wanted to see a little more of England via rail and have as much time in Bath as possible. 

London Paddington Station

 Bath Spa Station

Bath Spa Station

The distance to all the main touristy spots is just a short and easy walk from the Bath Spa train station. Leaving the station just head straight up the hill and you'll find the first of many signs that point you in the right direction of where you'd like to go.

Bath Abbey

Creepy ice cream shop sign.

 Bath Abbey

The Roman Baths

After doing some research on the famed Roman Baths and looking at pictures from the countless others who've gone before me, the first thing that surprised me was just how large the Roman Baths are. It's not just simply that one green pool surrounded by statues of famous Romans from history that every tourist -including myself- snaps a photo of, there's more. In fact a there are several more bathing pools and a fantastic museum, which houses more artifacts than you can imagine, along with the customary overpriced gift shops. 

The entry price was modest and included and audio tour, in fact I found that most historic places within the United Kingdom that offered a tour almost always had the option for an additional audio tour.

The history of this location is vast and I could essentially write a book with the information that I learned while there, so to spare you from an even longer post I highly suggest going there yourself or of course the good ole fashioned way of learning, pick up a book and/or check out there website

A quick fact though, that green pool that has been made famous from so many traveler photos, was not originally green. The Roman Baths, when they were initially built over a hot spring had a roof over head, which prevented the lead lined pool to turn green from the sun.

And a quick heads up, if you have an overly sensitive nose just be forewarned that when walking through some of the indoor spring areas, a very unpleasant and pungent smell will permeate through the air making you, or at least it did me, slightly nauseous. 

Bath is a great place to just walk around with loads of little shops and nice views and at least at the time I visited, also featured a street markets such as the one pictured below. 

I ended up walking by the entrance to the riverside walk twice somehow, but to find it all you have to do is cross the Pulteney Bridge from the side of the Roman Baths and it will be on the other end on the right side. When you go down the stairs to the riverside walk, there is a nice little cafe/restaurant called, surprise surprise, The Riverside Cafe & Riverside, that overlooks the River Avon and offers tasty food for a good price. Dining here also taught me that service isn't quite the same as in the United States, for most of the United Kingdom, your waiter/waitress don't come back to continually check on you and bring the check after you finish. So just remember to flag down your waitstaff when you're done.

This is definitely one of those places I have to go back to as my time was cut short and I had to head back on an earlier train to London to meet up with the Contiki group I was about to travel the countryside with.

My next blog post will feature my first day on the England and Scotland Contiki tour.

Click here for more photos from trip to Bath.